28 Apr


Synopsis: “An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.” (Rated R; 1 hour, 41 minutes)

Talk about being stuck between two realities. Trance was really disappointing for a Danny Boyle flick, but interesting enough for a no-name director. It was either a really bad A-lister movie, or a really decent B-movie. On the one hand it was something you’d see in the theater and think of as a “rental”, or alternatively you’d see it late at night on cable and think it was a surprisingly good movie. Basically, it was an intriguing flick that tried to be clever and tricky, but mostly was using recycled gimmicks.

Let’s start by examining the man behind-the-scenes, Danny Boyle. As an exciting English director, he has been worth following for about 20 years. His first feature film was the clever dark comedy Shallow Grave, and he really broke out with his next one, the inventively filmed Trainspotting. I can still picture the disgusting scene where Ewan McGregor fishes through a FILTHY toilet to find his drugs, before literally climbing into it. Years later he energized the zombie genre by giving a sense of urgency and speed to the typically-slow corpses in his great movie 28 Days Later... His last two movies were deserving Oscar-bait material, first the wonderful Slumdog Millionaire, and then 127 Hours, which managed to make two hours of James Franco drinking his own pee an interesting passage of time, a true feat! A dossier like that makes me expect so much more than a decent B or C movie.

The basic premise of Trance was that James McAvoy’s character got involved with a bad crowd, stole some art, got hit in the head, got amnesia, and couldn’t remember what he did with the art. Thus hypnotherapy plays the title role. There are twists and turns, and sometimes you aren’t sure if a character is awake or in a hypnotized state. But none of it was as clever as it wanted to be, and that’s just plain disappointing. It wanted to be the same caliber as other movies that screw with your brain, including Inception, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and Stranger Than Fiction,  but instead it came across as second-rate twisty entertainment that’s intriguing to watch but feels more like…late night cable. Even the music sounded like an 80’s electronica score, and not in a good Wendy Carlos kind-of-way. It just helped set the mood for a really good straight-to-video movie.

Another problem was with lead actor James McAvoy, whom I usually love. While I understand that it’s refreshing to have people play different ranges of roles, I didn’t enjoy following a character who was whiny, sniveling and ultimately an unlikable  guy, all while supposedly being the protagonist. There are plenty of movies in which the main character is an anti-hero, but if you get to the point where you don’t care if they live or die, that’s simply a badly written screenplay.

I will point out the Rated R elephant in the room. There was a depiction of nudity from Rosario Dawson in Trance that I have NEVER seen in any previous movie, and comes out of the blue when it does. In fact, when it suddenly happened, Josh and I both looked at each other in disbelief, and I’m actually shocked that the hyper-critical (and often hypocritical) MPAA didn’t stick the movie with an NC-17 as a result. It was also a bizarre bit of nudity, because it played such a key role in the plot, it ALMOST felt like Danny Boyle got an idea for a nudity-related plot device and then wrote an entire movie around it!

Truthfully the acting was all pretty good (Vincent Cassel was interesting to watch), and the  story was continuously intriguing. It’s just hard to take a movie seriously when it thinks it’s being more clever than it is, and you feel like you’ve seen it all before.

The movie was better than A Life Less Ordinary, an early Danny Boyle movie misfire that some people seemed to like; but it was a bizarre love story that never held my interest in spite of a promising cast. It was however not nearly as good as Trainspotting nor any of the examples of clever movies that mess with your brain I had mentioned earlier.

Quality Rating: C+

Boaz Rating: B-


10 Responses to “Trance”

  1. zralston May 3, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Yep. I liked it even less than you, but we made the same points re: McAvoy, Eternal Sunshine, and the lol nudity.


  2. boazconstrictor May 3, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Ooh, I always LOVE when I finally see a movie that you’ve already reviewed since I save yours to read til after to not bias me. Time to check it out!


  3. Mike Burgher May 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Oh, it was Rosario DAWSON who got naked, not Rosie O’DONNELL! I always confuse those two.


    • boazconstrictor May 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Good thing you read it so you could get that important clarification. That is, it’s important for the sake of your retinas of course. 🙂


  4. Orit Tashman May 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Oh man, thanks Boaz. I was leaning towards not seeing this anyway, and glad that was validated.
    I have strong love/hate feelings about Danny Boyle, in that I used to love him and now I hate him. The love began with 28 Days Later, one of my favorite films, and the hate actually began with Slumdog, which I thought was just stupid (sorry).
    I’ve since decided that it was never actually Danny Boyle that I loved, but Alex Garland (the writer of 28 Days, The Beach, and Sunshine).
    But then there is Trainspotting, which always throws my theory, so it gets me to see every Danny Boyle film. But this time, with your help, I won’t do it!! 🙂


    • boazconstrictor May 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      LOL, you’re the first person I’ve ever met who didn’t like Slumdog! If nothing else it should make you not want to ever hide in a pile of poop! Oh, that reminds me, he used that idea twice, forgot he did that in both Slumdog and Trainspotting (being in a poop-filled toilet), sensing a theme, hmm…
      Glad I influenced you, don’t hate me if you see it later and claim it was awesome. 🙂


      • table9mutant June 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

        Yay! I hate Slumdog too! 😉 Reviewed it a while ago and was NOT kind. Was also very unkind about Trance… What happened to Danny Boyle movies?!


  5. boazconstrictor June 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    I think you misunderstood, I didn’t hate Slumdog, that one I loved, not this one though. LOL



  1. The Company You Keep (“My Thoughts On Old-Fashioned Movies”) | Boaz's Movie Obsession - May 7, 2013

    […] at the Landmark that we were enjoying on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The first had been Trance, a fast-paced movie I reviewed recently that somewhat let us down; so we were happily surprised […]


  2. The 2013 Boaz Movie Tally (Where Have I Been?!) | Boaz's Movie Obsession - March 25, 2014

    […] the hell did I just see” moment in any movie of this year: Tie between the nudity in Trance, and the windshield scene in The […]


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